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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 14, October 1970

by ALBERT H. BLACKMORE

When the first rail was laid in Waihi to start the continuation of the railway south into the Bay of Plenty an Unofficial Ceremony was held by the men responsible for the work. This happened in the Winter of 1923 when the Railway Service gang in conjunction with the Public Works gang met to lay the first pair of rails to start the line south. Until then, the railway line stopped at Waihi, with large wooden bumpers on the station side of Victoria Street to stop any trucks that were shunted to the end of the line. The girders to take the line over Victoria Street were placed the previous Autumn as was the filling beyond. (I was one of the contractors to finish that filling, but that is another story).

The Public Works gang, with Mr. Carpenter as ganger was responsible for laying the new line, but the Railway Service gang had to be on hand to connect the new rails to the end of the old line. Mr. Charlie Rae was ganger, the other members being Jack Dobbs and Joe Wordsworth, both of Waikino and Allen Thomas a newcomer from Hikutaia and myself.

Having removed the wooden bumpers from the end of the old line both gangs laid the first rail. Charlie Rae drove the first dog on the station side of the rail. Then Mr. Carpenter drove the next dog, with the rest of us from both gangs alternately driving a dog each. There was no champagne not even a bottle of beer, but the foundation was laid unofficially with ceremony. That was just over 47 years ago and many trains have run over those lines since.